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Beirut Art Critics

Dear BACritics readers,

We have lost full access to our blog.

In fact, the creation of “artsbeirut.wordpress.com” was an exercise during a course at university. We took this exercise far beyond the classroom walls and was a start of a dream come true. Being able to assist to many exhibitions and contribute to the Lebanese cultural scene was exciting and full of bright surprises and enriching experience. The part that allowed all contributors to have access to this one blog, was the teacher, that is surprisingly not responsive to our requests to gain full access to this blog. Having full access will enable us to take it a step further. Perhaps, he also lost access to his email, phone etc.

Due to these circumstances, we ask you to follow us on Facebook to keep up with our news. Eventually, a new blog or website will be created to keep in touch with you.

Thank you.

For those who would like to know a little bit more about us, you can read this brief in french from the Agenda Culturel

Contact us on beirutartcritics.mail@gmail.com


“An anthem of life” art for a good cause

AN ANTHEM OF LIFE

On Wednesday 9 March 2016, Cynthia Sarkis Perros – LUXURY LIMITED EDITION will be launching ART FOR LIFE, a yearly art exhibition aiming to benefit a non-lucrative organization with more than 100 Lebanese artists including painters, sculptors and photographers at the modern LE YACHT CLUB-BEIRUT gallery in Zaitunay Bay.

This year, ART FOR LIFE will be raising funds for TAMANNA, a non-profit organization that grants the wishes of children with critical illnesses.

This event will host an extensive guest list including top VIP’s, businessmen, art collectors, the media and the bloggers for a common cause, which is TO NEVER GIVE UP.

ART FOR LIFE POSTER

SCUDERIA LEBANON SAL, will be present with their latest Ferrari models displayed within the gallery.

BSL BANK, a consistent supporter of cultural events and Lebanese artists, will partner up with ART FOR LIFE on this occasion.

ANTOINE HAKIM JOAILLIERS will add their own touch in celebrating life through arts and jewelry.

Sincere gratitude goes to all the artists and to the LEBANESE ARTISTS ASSOCIATION OF PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS – LAAPS for their gracious contribution to this exhibition.

ART FOR LIFE will be open to the public from 10 to 13 March from 11 AM to 8 PM.

MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED LEBANESE ARTISTS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS BEAUTIFUL EVENT

Ahlam Abbas, May Abboud, Mohammad Abdallah, Hana Abdel Khalek, Daisy Abi Jaber, Daad Abi Saab Souki, Nizar Abou Kays, Sacha Abou Khalil, Sara Abou Mrad, Jad Abou Zeki, Layla Almoussawi, Georges Amatoury, Rania Amro, Rima Amyuni, Youssef Aoun, Maria Arida, Aziza Assad, Rima Assi Dalloul, Maher Attar, Assem Ayoub, Alfred Badr, Badre Badre, Haibat Balaa Bawwab, Bénédicte Bali, Noura Baydoun, Elie Bekhazi, Zaher El Bizri, Rania Bohlok, Rached Bohsali, Bokja Design, Roula Chamseddine, Fouad Chehab, Wafica Chehab, Roula Chreim, Mahmoud Daoud, Hiba Darwish, Elias Dib, Mona Ezzedine, Leone Fabiano, Imad Fakhri, Amal Fakih, Joseph Faloughi, Charbel Fares, Rima Farroukh, Aline Fattal, Vanessa Gemayel, Hala Gharzeddine, Layal Gholam, Elsa Ghossoub, Mansour El Habre, Maya Hage, Nasser Al Halabi, Kameel Hawa, Najla Hobeiche, Assia Hobeika Massabki, Mohamed Hourani, Hania Husami, Emile Issa, Darine Jaber, Sayde Jabra, Yahya Al Jamal, Nada Karam, Pierre Karam, Zohrab Keshishian, Mona Kabbani Khater, Suzanne Khairallah, Sarah Khayat, Haifa Khodr Husni Bey, Alexandre Khoury, Charles Khoury, Jad El Khoury, Adel Kodeih, Sahar Labban, Nabil Melki, George Merheb, Simon Mhanna, Lydia Moawad, Iman Mokadam, Véra Mokbel, Vicky Mokbel, Jinan Moussa, Alberto Nehme, Randa Nehme, Samira Nehme, Youssef Nehme, Yasmina Nysten, Soraya Obeid, Jacqueline Ohanian, Riad Oueida, Dima Raad, Marina Ramadi, Lamis Rammal, Nayla Romanos Iliya, Michel Rouhana, Soha Sabbagh, Reine Salem, Amin Sammakieh, Rida Al Sayed, Nada Sehnaoui, Souheil Semaan, Caroline Semerjian, George Seryao, Antoine Soued, Mohamad Succarie, Missak Terzian, Atef Tohme, Carole Torbey, Gulene Torossian Der Boghossian, Nada Traboulsi, Zena Yachoui, Hassan Yateem, Rawia Zantout, Ghassan Zard, Fouad Zibawi, Farid Zoghbi, Marianna Zoghbi, Sara Zoghbi.

 

For any further information, don’t hesitate to contact us:

LUXURY LIMITED EDITION

zeinab@luxurylimitededition.com

71 60 10 74


Lara Khatchikian-Soulful of Light

 After some collective exhibitions (AGBU/ESCWA/DT Beirut Art Festival/Aley summer festival), Lara Khatchikian decided to play it solo. ‘Soulful of light’, her first solo exhibition, opens at l’Osteria (Mar Mikhail) on Tuesday, January 24th, at 6 p.m. Why l’Osteria and not an art gallery? To her, l’Osteria is “where one feels at home among wonderful friends and people… I wanted my first step to be singular.”

Lara Khatchikian has always immersed herself in Continue reading


Your guide to Beirut back-to-school exhibitions! (or, M. puts her foot in her mouth yet again and judges shows by their invitation cards)

Sun is still shining, kids everywhere are resuming their regular diet of picon sandwiches, and the Beirut art scene is slowly emerging from its summer lethargy.

What should you look forward to? What’s not to be missed? What should I avoid? I know, we always complain about the dearth of artistic activities available to Beirutis, but when you compile a real list of what’s going on (without even delving about the performing arts) things begin to seem like any art outing’s going to be really hard to cram in your already tightly-packed workweek.

But I’m here to help!!!!

 This handy little guide will save you hours of pointless traffic jams (unless you like traffic jams, and wasting time looking at third-rate art, in which case you probably also feel better about yourself when your skin is a nice shade of orange, and have been known to attend things called “events” at places called “rooftops” . Whatever floats your boat, I won’t judge).

 

Without further ado, in chronological order of opening:

Continue reading


Who doesn’t like old photos?

As a nineteenth-century and a Middle East history nerd, I had to go see what this Egler Hesser/ Herzog collection currently on show at Galerie Sfeir-Semler was about. A journey through time, across Palestine, Egypt, and (what’s most interesting to me), Lebanon… Old photographs, some of them bearing the traces of time, others beautifully coloured in saturated hues; plenty of lavish landscapes; poverty but also opulence in the pounds and pounds of golds worn by some of the women; obviously relents of racism/orientalism/colonialism (witness, for instance, a series of photographs of pilgrims to Mecca snapped, almost, like exotic animal species, or the expected shots of menacing-looking Middle Eastern men with their weapons); the beginnings of archeology with photos of Roman and Egyptian temples….

I won’t say more, except go now. The exhibition lasts until October 29th, so you can’t say you haven’t been warned in advance!

 


Food for thought in our context

A response I got to my post about the state of art criticism in Lebanon, food for thought from a friend in the US….

Seriously, my only criticism is that you are apologizing too much for your opinions. Complaining that journalists are getting basic facts wrong seems perfectly reasonable to me — do you really have to apologize for being “pretentious” or emphasizing that you’re not trying to hurt anyone?

 

 



The state of art criticism in Lebanon, or, can you even write about art under current circumstances (and it’s not geopolitics I’m talking about)?

Disclaimer: this is a completely biased, non-objective, personal opinion, that does not necessarily reflect the views of the artsbeirutcritics team.

I would like to open the discussion to a topic close to my heart. In late 2010, I followed a class at Saint Joseph University in the context of their art criticism and curatorial studies Master’s degree. Led by Pr Charlotte Gachon, it centred on the study of the history of art criticism. I will not get into details, but we read pretty much all important Western writers on art, from Greek philosophers to the French enlightment philosophers to contemporary theorists.
These writers all went further than a simple description of art. They explained it, criticized it, commented it and theorized it.Their audience was not necessarily a large one, yet, they made an impact on the discourse around art, and, beyond that, the direction artistic creation took at one time or another. There was a concerted effort to give an opinion all the while educating the public.
I am certainly not trying to say that all criticism is dead all over the world, and that our society is decadent, no longer reads, or no longer cares about art. On the contrary, on a global level, museum attendance is quite healthy, art fairs keep on growing despir the viscissitudes of the economy, and auctions keep on breaking records. Many critics retain their role as critics, praising but also finding faults with what they write about. (Witness the recent obituaries published after the death of the arguably great, untouchable painter Francis Bacon. Some assesments of his life and work were, to say the least, harsh.)
In Lebanon, however, I have yet to read a single negative word about the local art scene, which is more active than ever (and, hopefully, will only keep on growing in quantity and quality). I believe our country  is a true community of critical thinkers who think about art instead of simply describing what they see.
Indeed, most exhibition reviews published in Lebanese publications seem to barely skim the material at hand and simply rehash whatever press material the gallery / art space / institution fed them, adding a sprinkling of laudatory adjectives. (Although, there’s a few whom I think do a great job, none of all in the Francophone press our country prides itself for.)
Even more appalling, many are plain, blatantly WRONG.
Only in the past week, I read a critic in an important Lebanese weekly who misstated the very location of an exhibition. Mind you, he didn’t get confused between, say, the Beirut Art Center and the Beirut Exhibition Center. He (or she, the article was not signed) seemed to mistake an exhibition of Lebanese art for one of American art. Makes you wonder if/how editors even read copy before it goes to press.
It’s one thing to praise everything one sees just to be nice, or to keep receiving invites to vernissages and be able to shmooze with artists/ collectors/ gallery owners / politicians / ladies who lunch etc., it’s one thing to work within the limited parameters of free speech in Lebanon, it’s another, altogether, to be so sloppy as to spell artists’ names wrong, works titles wrong, or mistake a photograph for an oil painting (there’s a reason why I don’t link or give names: I’m as sheepish as all of us and my aim is not to hurt anyone).
In the past, I have asked many people involved in the art world here why they thought there was no decent art criticism in the local media. The responses I received were unanimous. One, people don’t dare attracting the ires of artists and gallerists, fearing they will be ostracized from future exhibitions. Two, journalists and the art world are friends or social acquaintances. Three, come on Marie, you’re asking too much we are in Lebanon after all!
I do not think any of these reasons are acceptable. To these three reasons given, I counter: One, this is art we’re talking about, not politics, nor religion, nor anything taboo (art censorship is another issue altogether, I’m only making reference to reviewing art that’s on public view, thus acceptable for censorship). It’s not as if you were going to be assassinated because you said what you thought of art, and so what if an artist gets angry. Let him or her try to subject itself to more serious criticism abroad, for instance. Two, friends (if it’s friends we’re talking about) should accept constructive criticism. Three, exactly, we are in Lebanon and we keep on praising our long heritage of quality intellectual production.
To which I conclude: instead of accepting the status quo or lamenting the current state of affairs (which I actually seem to be doing, ironically), we need to step up our game. Become, ourselves, the independent, outspoken art critics out there to voice their opinions, make themselves respected, open the eyes of the public, make a larger audience enthusiastic about art and support the growth of quality artistic production.
Did sound pretentious didn’t it?